Ann Zinn Buffum and Sandra Stillman Gartner, project directors, interviewed Darryl Bloom on August 15, 2005 in Montpelier, Vermont as part of DAVARâs oral history project.
Darryl was born in Chicago in 1946 and grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, where she spent Saturday mornings helping her mother arrange flowers in the nearby Presbyterian church. She attended Antioch College in Ohio and graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in elementary education in 1970. After meeting and marrying her husband, Barney, the couple lived on a Kibbutz in Israel. Darryl was moved by the antiquity of Jerusalem and the power of the Wailing Wall.
After the young couple moved to Hawaii, Darryl began studying Judaism with a rabbi. Realizing a Jewish home life was important to her husband, Darryl decided to convert. For over 20 years she has been a member of the Jewish community in central Vermont. Darryl volunteered in the religious school of Beth Jacob synagogue where her daughters, Hannah and Deborah celebrated their bat-mitzvahs.
Her early experiences during the Civil Rights Movement led to her commitment to social justice. As a school counselor she has worked to promote tolerance and understanding among students and the community. Thanks to Darryl and other community members, Montpelier schools now have a clear policy about teaching and celebrating religion.
Darryl went to Nicaragua with Planting Hope, an organization supported by central Vermonters to improve education, support grass root initiatives and foster cultural exchanges. In 2009, Daryl began teaching at the Family Center of Washington County providing educational services for preschoolers and their families.
In 2004 DAVAR : The Vermont Jewish History Project was founded by Ann Buffum and Sandy Gartner. At the time, there was no other collection of Vermont Jewish womenâs life stories. Over five year period they conducted oral history interviews with 20 Jewish women living in rural and urban Vermont ranging in age from 12 to 96. The women's stories reflect a wide variety of interests, beliefs and occupations including women in government, education, political and social advocacy, farming, business, the arts, homemaking and religion. Some of the women have roots going back to the early Jewish settlers in the state and others have been more recent migrants. The topics they discuss reflect the history of the times: escaping the holocaust, coping with gender discrimination, breaking into politics and medicine, converting to Judaism from another faith, and making contributions to the arts and culture.
Darryl Bloom’s photo credit: Karen Pike, www.kpikephoto.com
This project was made possible in part by major grants from the Aviva Spring Foundation, Vermont Humanities Council, Damon and Marilee Buffum, Vermont Community Fund and many other individuals and organizations who have supported DAVAR through their donations.